Leading female actors of Hindi Cinema will all remember 2018 as the year where flawed, relatable and deeply layered characters, very different from the inconsequential formulaic ones that usually titillate the box office , were written and then deliciously played by them. There was a plenty of range to love and choose from for picking up the Best of Leading Performances by Female Actors for 2018.
Note: Mrunal Thakur starrer Love Sonia was unfortunately missed out and its digital release is still awaited. Also, The Best Supporting performances of 2018 were already looked at separately.
- BANITA SANDHU as Shiuli Iyer (October) – Eyes that spoke a million words and expressed a world of emotions.
- RANI MUKERJI as Naina Mathur (Hichki) – Impressive performance in a difficult role, however in a poorly executed film.
- ZOYA HUSSAIN as Sunaina Mishra (Mukkabaaz) – A spunky debut, fiery and sharp in relevance even in her muted self.
10. SANYA MALHOTRA as Genda Kumari & RADHIKA MADAN as Champa Kumari (Pataakha) – Bickering yet inseparable sisters, appreciably natural and fluid in their rustic and earthy dialect and expressions. They didn’t let the energy fizzle out in spite of their rough edges that showed occasionally. Sanya displayed better range and lesser clumsiness amongst the two, but their performance came together well only as a package in company of each other!
09. ALIA BHATT as Sehmat Khan (Raazi) – Alia’s performance was strong and weak at the same time. She was tremendous in scenes which were all actions, expressions, eye movements, and no words – a big part of the script. Her face is a canvas that can capture every emotion crystal clear. But amidst all the other underplayed and nuanced performances around her, she was the one who crossed the line of trying too much in quite a few occasions. Her vulnerability at times appeared forced and she broke down way too often. The overall strengths outweigh the issues thankfully, but it would be good for Alia to be more experimental in her projects to come.
08. DEEPIKA PADUKONE as Padmavati (Padmaavat) – This titular role was surprisingly shortchanged with unfairly curtailed screen time, but still got brilliantly amplified by Deepika’s elegantly understated but super assured performance, mainly through her wonderfully speaking eyes and towering body language, exactly what the role needed. And even though she had the least of them, she got the most impactful lines of the film and delivers them with astounding strength and gravitas! Pranam Ranisa!
07. GEETANJALI THAPA as Archana Pradhan (Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz) – Geetanjali Thapa was a complete natural like always and was perfectly cast in a film that weaves romanticism in each frame and swells in its languish pace. Her Archana is very flesh and blood – we know her in our lives, and her charm is infectious. This performance deserved to receive lot more love, it is a hidden gem of the year. Thapa was also excellent as Minnie Basu in Bioscopewala where she balanced out her personal battles of grief, shock, incompleteness or loneliness very well. Yet another film that was overlooked by many!
06. BHUMI PEDNEKAR as Sudha (Lust Stories) – Bhumi was a delight to watch in Zoya Akhtar’s short, the most powerful film of the the anthology. She spoke a thousand words through her silent gestures and passive eyes – both while being the compromised woman whose existence was hardly acknowledged, or being the triumphant one as she handed down her master’s lust as broken seconds. She mastered a complex layered character with a minimalist approach and stole the thunder away from everyone else.
05. TABU as Simi (Andhadhun) – Tabu was fascinating in a deliciously twisted role, and her Simi here was multiple shades darker than Macbeth’s Nimmi or Hamlet’s Ghazala. Tabu literally chewed the character with her wild charisma, her composed persona, and her deadly fierceness – in short with all her Tabuism. Simi was served as the vintage wine at her intoxicating best by this powerhouse performer, and left everyone in such a trance!
04. NEENA GUPTA as Priyamvada Kaushik (Badhaai Ho) – Casting Neena Gupta as Priyamvada was a masterstroke – the way she brought out her vulnerability as well as her confidence in a role laden with apparent social stigma, and yet be the ultimate center of strength for the entire family, showed what we have been missing from screen for many years now. No one else could have pulled off Priyamvada with so much conviction. In fact, Neena Gupta was lovely as the beautifully grounded matriarch Tabassum too – in a small but important role in Mulk. Hope to see her around more and more in times to come.
03. SHEFALI SHAH as Tara (Once Again) – This beautiful film achieved most of its rich on screen flavors and textures primarily because of the wonderfully understated performances of its leads. Shefali Shah specifically dazzled in pretty much every frame she was in and her face was the perfectly lit vibrant canvas of million emotions. She was a clear showstopper, and the film was a constant reminder of how underutilized she has always been in spite for being around for years. Hoping that it changes, and changes for good!
02. ANUSHKA SHARMA as Rukhsana (Pari) – Pari revolutionized the genre of horror in Hindi cinema like nothing else before, and Anushka Sharma led the charge from the front. It was path-breaking for an A-lister to play the devil on screen, and was so much more fascinating as she layered it with empathy, love, basic goodness, brutality and grotesqueness at the same time. Anushka was totally out of her comfort zone and completely deglamorized herself to give us a milestone character for keeps! Her another brave performance as Mamta in Sui Dhaaga – Made in India also deserves a mention here. Her Mamta was as vulnerable as she was strong, as determined as she was docile, as respectful as she was independent, and Anushka delivered it with a steel iron resolute. You go girl!
01. TAPSEE PANNU as Rumi Bagga (Manmarziyaan) – Rumi is probably the most fleshed out and strongest female protagonist ever written since Piku, and Tapsee did complete justice to it. Right from frame one you know that Tapsee is Rumi and Rumi is Tapsee. She was spot on with her aggression, fearlessness, vulnerabilities, whimsicality and conflicts. For any moment you don’t question the turbulence that Rumi goes through in the entire film, because Tapsee ensures through her career best performance to date that love and its decisions are no boolean switches, and that they will keep tearing you apart till the havoc ruins everything. Many of us have lived Rumi, and many girls are going to live Rumi for years to come, and Tapsee will become a small part of all those lives forever! Along side Rumi, Tapsee left a massive footprint as Aarti Mohammad – the wonderfully composed and complementarily arousing mouthpiece in Mulk. A truly golden year for her!
We will look at the Best leading performances for male actors in detail separately. For all similar posts on year end roundup for 2018, please lookup YEAR END ROUNDUP 2018 – Hits & Misses. Also please do share your thoughts on your favorite performances by female actors this year.
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